NSW Police documents expose serious problems with secretive NSW policing plan

Documents obtained by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre have exposed new information about the operation of the NSW Police’s Suspect Targeting Management Plan (STMP) and lay bare a flawed approach that is open to abuse and undermines public confidence in policing.

The STMP is a secretive policy and practice used by police to target individuals for pro-active attention including personal searches and home visits, at all hours of the day.  First Nations people are grossly overrepresented in the STMP cohort, comprising 57% of young people under the age of 18 and 64% of young people under the age of 16.

For more than five years PIAC, together with legal organisations, academics and social justice organisations have been raising particular concerns about the oppressive impact of the STMP on children.

The documents released by NSW Parliament reveal:

  • Although ‘targets’ are meant to be selected based on the Crime Severity Index, police have broad discretion to select people outside this group. This leaves the process open to bias.
  • The STMP encourages police practices that may be oppressive and unlawful. For example, in a ‘Disruption Toolkit’, the policy encourages officers to issue Traffic Infringement Notices and Defect Notices because ‘restricting access to vehicles limits offending behaviour’. The policy also encourages the use of bail checks and searches.
  • The manipulation of relationships with young people and their families for surveillance purposes. Police officers are encouraged to ‘build rapport and trust with family members through attending and re-attending their homes … attempt to cultivate family members as sources’.

Camilla Pandolfini, PIAC Principal Solicitor:

‘We’ve known for decades that exposing children to repeated, invasive interactions with police is harmful.  We need to be diverting young people from the criminal justice system if we want better outcomes, not increasing their interaction with it.’

‘We urge the NSW Government to cease use of the STMP against children and ensure it isn’t used disproportionately against First Nations people. How much longer can we keep doing the same things and expect a different result?

For more information about the STMP, including case studies, see the Youth Justice Coalition’s report on the STMP (2017).

For the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission’s recent Investigation, see LECC’s Interim Report on Operation Tepito (2020).

Media contacts: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

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